An Empirical Typology of Social Networks and Its Association With Physical and Mental Health: A Study With Older Korean Immigrants

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Abstract

Objectives.

In the context of social convoy theory, the purposes of the study were (a) to identify an empirical typology of the social networks evident in older Korean immigrants and (b) to examine its association with self-rated health and depressive symptoms.

Method.

The sample consisted of 1,092 community-dwelling older Korean immigrants in Florida and New York. Latent class analyses were conducted to identify the optimal social network typology based on 8 indicators of interpersonal relationships and activities. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were conducted to examine how the identified social network typology was associated with self-rating of health and depressive symptoms.

Results.

Results from the latent class analysis identified 6 clusters as being most optimal, and they were named diverse, unmarried/diverse, married/coresidence, family focused, unmarried/restricted, and restricted. Memberships in the clusters of diverse and married/coresidence were significantly associated with more favorable ratings of health and lower levels of depressive symptoms.

Discussion.

Notably, no distinct network solely composed of friends was identified in the present sample of older immigrants; this may reflect the disruptions in social convoys caused by immigration. The findings of this study promote our understanding of the unique patterns of social connectedness in older immigrants.

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